It was August 1977.
My young imagination was captivated by science fiction books and the film STAR WARS.
I can’t overestimate the impact STAR WARS had on me as a teenager. It wasn’t just a fun space romp to me. It seemed to bring together all the elements I loved about science fiction into one enthralling story.
I was a timid and shy youth who lived a lot through books, mostly science fiction from the great authors such as Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Frank Herbert (Dune), etc. Frankly, there are too many to mention here.
George Lucas’ seminal film changed my life and inspired me so much I began in late summer 1977 my writing journey at the age of 15 with a 60-page hand-written novel I called JAKE’S WAR: JULY 4, 2076. It was the story of Jake Chadwick, a soldier, pilot, and former diplomat, fighting in a war against the Russians and Chinese in the future—at the time of the American Tricentennial. There was also a love story involving Jake and Jill Yamamoto, a former soldier. I also made some interesting predictions at the time in my novel about America electing our first African American president in the year 2000 (I was only eight years off), and our country and the world solving pollution, environmental, and overpopulation problems with new technology (we still have a ways to go, but I hope we can improve our efforts before 2076).
Please see the first page below to get an idea of just how rough this first draft was.
As with my previous novel ROBOT TROUBLES and short story collection CAR DODGING, which are based on writing from my youth, I updated JAKE’S WAR where it was appropriate, but I wanted to stick as close to the original story as possible. This novel (my 13th book overall) was — as with those earlier books – an attempt to recapture my youthful writing spirit if I could.
Although there is a mention of Jake fighting a war against a moon base rebellion earlier in his military career, all the action remains Earthbound in this story. So, you could say the influence of STAR WARS was in that it inspired me to write my own initial story, but I didn’t attempt to write a similar space epic.
This story is a warning against war and violence—as was my original version. Jake starts the novel working as a junior diplomat for a global diplomatic group trying to stop a pending war between America, its allies, and the Russians and Chinese. Once war is declared, Jake reluctantly joins the war effort. I also expanded the role and description of Jill, who is a former war hero who refuses to join Jake in the war and remains a diplomat, and Jason Kendrick, his African American friend and fellow air force pilot. The character of Sue Myers, a fellow soldier of Jake’s, also plays an expanded role later in this novel. I also added in the updated version of this novel a wry commentary about our current tensions with Russia as viewed from Jake’s perspective many years in the future.
Although I changed a lot of my original novel, I kept my dark, creative original ending. This book concludes as my dreaming fifteen-year-old mind imagined it.
It is beyond satisfying to share my first novel. I am thrilled that JAKE’S WAR: JULY 4, 2076, my initial foray into science fiction writing, is finally out in the world as I dreamed about that summer so long ago. Enjoy another intriguing journey through my youthful imagination.